San Mateo supervisor proposes fines for violating COVID-19 rules

San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa plans to introduce an ordinance at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday that would impose fines for those who violate COVID-19 health orders like not wearing a face covering in high-risk settings.

Currently, those who violate the state's health order could be punished with a misdemeanor, with fines up to $1,000 and a potential jail sentence of up to 90 days.

Under Canepa's ordinance, individuals can be fined $100 as an administrative infraction, $200 for a second violation and $500 for additional violations. Businesses can be fined between $250 and $3,000 per violation depending on the gravity of the violation, prior warnings, efforts to comply or intent to profit.

Canepa believes it's time to "double down" on mask compliance, according to a news release from his office.

He said the ordinance decriminalizes violations but still enforces compliance.

"If we want to return to normal and save lives then we must wear face masks, it's that simple," Canepa said. "But since many continue to thumb their noses at or do not understand these mandates, we must step up our outreach and enforcement efforts and let people know if you violate the law there will be consequences."

San Mateo County was the last Bay Area county to be added to the state's COVID-19 monitoring list last week for having a rolling average of more than 100 cases per 100,000 for 14 days.

Since the state has been on the watchlist for three consecutive days, businesses such as hair salons and fitness centers now face additional restrictions. The urgency ordinance is co-sponsored by Board President Warren Slocum.

Other Bay Area counties like Contra Costa, Marin and Napa have adopted similar citation structures, which fine individuals up to $500 and businesses on a sliding scale based on the extent of the violation.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting is planned for 9 a.m. Tuesday. The meeting is being held virtually and can be accessed here with meeting ID 921 4363 5134.